Nicole Woolsey Biggart, director of the Energy Efficiency Center at UC Davis, has written the foreword to the new book “Constructing Green: The Social Structures of Sustainability,” which focuses not only on the technological aspects needed to construct sustainable buildings, but also the cultural and sociological shift that must also take place.
“Constructing Green” describes how environmentally sustainable construction technologies have evolved over the past few decades, and how despite these innovations “residential and commercial buildings remain stubbornly energy inefficient.” Written as a series of essays, the book’s multiple authors point to our society and culture as the main reasons why building construction has not nearly caught up with the sustainable technologies we currently have.
Dr. Biggart draws comparisons in her foreword between sustainable vehicle and building technology, and the discrepancy we see in the innovation between them. She explains how, with vehicles, we have a more transparent view into their energy usage because we fill our cars with gas, but with buildings we often overlook their energy usage as we rarely see their direct energy usage and costs. Additionally, she explains cars are retired every 10 to 15 years to allow for new technologies, yet buildings turn around much slower.
Dr. Biggart ends her foreword saying we need to become comfortable “with the notion that understanding organizations and industries can lead to better social outcomes,” relating it to how we can construct buildings in ways that they can be environmentally friendly and embraced by the public.